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17th July 2023, 11:38:12 UTC

Highly controversial bill returns to House of Commons this week

‘Now is the time for MPs to decide whether they will prop up the Government’s plan to protect murderers or stand with victims and for their rights to truth and justice’ – Gráinne Teggart

In advance of the highly controversial Northern Ireland Troubles Bill returning to the House of Commons tomorrow, Gránne Teggart, Amnesty International UK’s Northern Ireland Deputy Director, said:

“It is disgraceful that a bill universally opposed, and which betrays victims in the most cruel and contemptuous way possible, continues to be pushed through by the UK Government.

“The call to abandon this shameful bill has never been more urgent. Now is the time for MPs to decide whether they will prop up government’s plan to protect murderers or stand with victims and for their rights to truth and justice.

“The stakes for victims could not be higher and we must not lose sight of the fact that there is a better, previously agreed, human rights-compliant and victim-centred way forward to deal with the legacy of the conflict.

“As it stands, the UK government has chosen to ignore this. All eyes are now on MPs to see if they will do same.

“MPs must also consider the dangerous intenational precedent which will be set by this bill; providing a blueprint for letting state forces and illegal armed groups off with murder and other serious crimes – a legacy no government should want to create.”

Michael O’Hare, whose 12-year-old sister Majella O’Hare was shot dead by a British soldier in County Armagh 47 years ago, said:

“MPs need to pause and put themselves in my shoes. If your sister was shot and killed, you’d want the truth to come out and you’d rightly expect justice.

“My sister Majella’s life mattered, she was taken from us in the most horrific way. This bill betrays her, my family and every victim still waiting for the accountability we’re all entitled to.

“Shame on the UK government ignoring our pleas to drop the Bill. I call on MPs to show up, reject the Bill and tell Government to think again”.

Troubles Bill: Deeply unpopular and damaging

This week the NI Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill returns to House of Commons on Tuesday (18 July).

The bill has already been overwhelmingly rejected by victims and victims’ groups as well as Amnesty and other human rights organisations, Northern Ireland political parties and the Irish government. It has also prompted serious and repeated concerns from the US Congress, the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, UN Special Rapporteurs, the Council of Europe Commissioner on Human Rights and the Committee of Ministers.

Last month, Amnesty UK commissioned Savanta to conduct a poll across England, Scotland and Wales in response to the significant opposition to the bill in Northern Ireland. The poll showed opposition to the Bill extends across all parts of the UK.

Polling results revealed that more than half (53%) of UK adults – and six in ten (58%) Tory voters – said that those accused of killings in relation to The Troubles, should not be able to receive immunity from prosecution in exchange for providing information about the crimes.

Nine in ten (87%) UK adults also said that people should still be prosecuted for serious crimes, such as murder, even if they were committed decades ago.